The days you feel like you are getting nowhere in life are the worst. There have been an awful lot of such days during the pandemic, which has locked us down without room to stretch our feet and dreams for almost two years now. For so many of us, COVID-19 didn’t just lug in disease but also unemployment, mental health issues, disillusionment and disquiet.
Gone are those goals we ambitiously devised for ourselves a couple of years ago; the future wholly proved itself to be unpredictable. Priorities have changed since the pandemic began in 2020. The top priority now is not money or fame or travel. It’s just staying alive to see another day.
Under trying circumstances, both during and beyond a pandemic, it is only natural that one can end up feeling rudderless. Here are a few tips to settle your feet on the ground before you reconfigure and stand back up to face life once again.
1. Who are you racing with?
Life is not a race, contrary to what many elders and 3 Idiots‘ Viru Sahastrabudhhe appear to wisely opine. There’s no racetrack, no spectators, no competitors, and, most importantly, no shiny reward waiting for any of us at the finish line. Witnessing people around us score success often convinces us that we are falling behind.
But what if you realise there is no race to run at all? That is the point we settle unto ourselves, get comfortable with living life at our own unique pace. Each to their own.
2. How do you measure success?
It helps greatly to take stock of what truly matters to each of us. What spells success for an entrepreneur looking to increase their turnover and a person trying their hand at learning how to make the best chai will be a study in contrasts. Both are valid. Why must we measure ourselves and our worth against someone else’s successes?
Would it not be more fulfilling to invest energy and interests in those goals that are truly ours and that we believe in? Define success in your own way.
3. Social media doesn’t show the full picture
Those of us who ‘follow’ influencers, stars, artists considered successful gaze starry-eyed at their trips, lifestyles, possessions, joys. They appear to be living out our perfect dreams while we are only left dreaming. It often leads to self-doubt, low confidence, body image issues. But are we looking at the full picture when we scroll through these made-for-camera profiles?
Social media sells many glitzy, sanitised myths about what ‘success’ means. What we must consider before buying into them is that the world behind the screen is only virtual. The one you are living offline at your own capacity matters the most.
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4. Look how far you’ve come
When the mood is blue and clouds of doubt darken your world, just look back at the road you have travelled thus far to make it where you are right now. You deserve to give yourself credit for the journey you undertook, obstacles you crossed, joys you gained and growth you managed along the way.
We are harsh on ourselves on a bad day. It may even cause us to invalidate ourselves and the milestones we are proud of. Though it can take time and support to get back on our confident feet again, we have to remain assured that moment will come.
5. Pull your social system closer
Friends, family, even long-forgotten buddies, or a kind stranger online can be the social support one needs in moments when life seems like it’s not moving along. These people can buttress the confidence, happiness and conviction we have but which have momentarily been stowed away.
While our social circles cannot step into our shoes and live our journeys for us, their empathy and mere act of ‘being there’ can sometimes be the source of light we need to appreciate the more intangible pleasures that make life worth.
6. You are allowed to take time off
The urbanised rat race that for many is a way of life makes us believe that hustling is the way to the top. Working at a breakneck, breathless and break-less pace is projected as the recipe for success. Imagine, such are the demands of our capitalistic society that taking even a day off to breathe is made out to be a point of weakness.
Why must we hold ourselves back from reaping the benefits we are working towards? Should we only slow down on the edge of burnout? We have to tell ourselves more that taking time off is perfectly okay. Each of us deserves it.
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7. Seeking help for mental health is okay
Get this, there is no shame in seeking professional help when our mental health calls for it. We don’t think twice before calling the doctor for a fever medicine right? If the seemingly directionless route your life is taking is causing mental hurt, anxiety or other states, then do consider meeting a therapist or psychologist.
A mental health practitioner can be the wall you vent, express and talk to about what’s bothering you. From an objective standpoint, a therapist will be able to assist in guiding you back to your own self once again.
8. Maybe it’s time to break the rut
When it seems like there’s a roadblock and your world has come to a standstill, maybe it’s life telling you to shake some things up. This could be the moment you break the rut and kickstart a new beginning for yourself. Living mundane routines, we often forget to appreciate the finer moments in between. We get tired, bored, burdened with ennui.
Where is life going? Am I achieving anything? Is something lacking? The answer to these questions is never scripted but perhaps lies in you finding meaning for yourself by seeking out what makes you truly happy and fulfilled.